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Experiences of a European volunteer, by Anna Rita

My name is Anna Rita, I am 27 years old and I come from Italy. I would like to share with you my first experiences as a European volunteer in Belgium.

I arrived in Liège on the first of March and I'll stay here till June 30 2009. When I left, I really was enthusiastic about this new experience because this volunteering project allows me to live several months (in my case four months) in another country: this way you learn an other language and a different culture. It is also the occasion to learn to live independently and autonomously.

I share the house with a second volunteer Aleksandra (Ola), a Polish girl that I really like.

Before starting the real work as a volunteer, Views organised a preparatory visit between February 19 and 21. It was the occasion to meet one another, to start learning the way, to discover the apartment where we were going to live during these four months and to fix the program of all the activities during our stay (mobility, daily living skills) and of course the work in the different associations).

After my arrival in Belgium, I didn't start to work right away. The first two weeks were used to get introduced. I had a lot of mobility training and was taught daily living skills to learn the routes in order to go to work without help and to be able to live independently.

When I applied for this EVS I had to choose a project that interested me. During my time as a volunteer I will work in two associations: the sociocultural coordination of the Sainte Marguerite area and l’Orchidée Rose.

The sociocultural coordination of the Sainte Marguerite area is an organisation that brings together and coordinates all associations in the Sainte-Marguerite quarter. My first task in this organisation is to write articles for the magazine "Salut Maurice". Other activities where I assist are the organisation of local parties and, once per week, the French course for adolescents between 14 and 18 years old coming from different countries. There I organise cultural activities and animations.

L’Orchidée Rose is an association targeted at Turkish people. In this association I organise cultural animations and activities to help Turkish women to learn French. At l’Orchidée Rose, I also follow a course of Turkish to be able to better communicate with them. I really like Turkish people and their language; I already studied this language in university. This voluntary work is an opportunity to meet people and to improve my Turkish.

My EVS does not only involve working. Twice per week I also follow French courses in a school and I do other activities that help me to gain independence such as mobility and to learn how to clean, to cook etc.

Even if the week is often already tiring enough, I still find time for hobbies! On March 26 for instance we went to the theatre to see the play of Don Juan by Molière. The play was very good but there was something special: the play was audio described. We received headphones through which we could hear information about what happened visually. After the play we went to eat something.

The first days were very tough and I have to say that I considered several times to return home. What was most difficult was to organise my daily life (to do shopping, cooking, etc.), to learn several routes at a time and to get used to another country and another way of life. However, I never felt alone as I always had the support of Beatrice, Anca, Loredana and the other persons that work with them to make these projects a success. Even in difficult moments I found positive things.

Finally I can say that I am very happy to be here and I like to thank Views for the experience they offer me which is a real enrichment for me.

Please take my advice: try also to do an EVS because it will change your life in a very positive way.